Weight Loss Surgery- Understanding Surgical Weight Loss Procedures: They Do What?

Considering the complexity of weight loss surgery, surgical weight loss methods are actually relatively easy to understand.  Different methods may be used depending on the patient’s state, including their Body Mass Index and how much weight they need to lose to be healthy.

It is important that a patient have an understanding of the surgery and how it works before it takes place.  It used to be necessary for the surgeon to cut the patient completely open to perform weigh loss surgery. However, they are now able to use cameras inserted in the body to perform most proedures.  This is called laparoscopic surgery, and is less invasive and removes the possibility of wound infection which can cause complications.


Gastric Banding

Gastric Bypass

Duodenal Switch

What is done

A flexible band is placed around the stomach creating a small upper section and a larger lower section Majority of stomach stapled shut so digested food never enters.  Connection between stomach and small intestine altered Approximately 75% of the stomach is removed.  Small intestine rearranged.

How it works

Food enters the smaller section, swells it, causing the individual to feel full sooner and stop eating Food entering smaller portion of stomach does not allow as much to be eaten.  Altered path to small intestine causes less absorption of fat and calories Stomach is smaller, so less food is eaten.  Less absorption of fat and calories due to rearrangement of intestines.

Resulting loss of excess weight

Up to 60% Up to 70-80% Up to 75-80%

Risks specific to this procedure

Band may slip or erode in stomach Anemia or other deficiencies may result from lowered absorption Vitamin or mineral deficiencies or anemia.

Another procedure which may be confused with a surgical weight loss procedure is a tummy tuck.  A tummy tuck is done to remove excess skin from the abdomen after a large amount of weight is lost or after pregnancy.  Some people who have weight loss surgeries may want this eventually if they have a lot of skin left.

Once someone has decided that they would like to have weight loss surgery, they will need to discuss with their doctor which method would be best for them given their current weight, goals and medical history.

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